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Title: Arctic science in circulation at the Royal Geographical Society, c.1880-1914
Author: Martin, Peter Robert
ISNI:       0000 0001 0788 0352
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Much historical scholarship has examined the events which took place as various explorers ventured into the Northernmost areas of the earth's surface. Such analysis has sought to understand the multiple and overlapping motivations that lay behind these Arctic expeditionary practices. Importantly, studies have also shown that explorers were key actors in the production of geographical knowledge pertaining to this geographical region and it has also been demonstrated that this knowledge was to have a powerful influence over how the North was envisaged within the Western popular imagination. While the role of individual explorers in these processes has been well documented, a growing body of scholarship has turned its attention toward understanding the wider cultures in which these explorers were situated. In particular, the precise role that was played by various geographical institutions in the formation of these important Arctic discourses has begun to be investigated. This project, conducted as part of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award between the University of Oxford and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), has therefore contributed to and expanded these insightful literatures. Contributing to emerging debates that have considered the geographies bound up in the circulation of scientific knowledge, the thesis draws from the extensive archival collections held at the RGS-IBG to study the ways in which geographical knowledge about the Arctic regions was produced, circulated and mediated by this hugely influential institution. Studying the Society's close connections to three Arctic explorers - Fridtjof Nansen, Ejnar Mikkelsen and Robert Peary - it is shown that the RGS was instrumental in shaping both scientific and lay discourses about the Arctic at the turn of the twentieth century. The thesis also explores the limits to this knowledge circulation by examining the ways in which perspectives from indigenous peoples of the Arctic were marginalised within the historical records of these expeditions. Although 'indigenous intermediaries' assisted explorers in a number of ways during their time in the field, the thesis demonstrates that prevailing imaginaries of the Polar regions have meant that these contributions have continued to remain only 'partially visible' within the subsequent historical narrative.
Supervisor: Powell, Richard ; Greenhough, Beth ; Souch, Catherine Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Polar Studies ; Historical geography ; Human Geography ; History of Science